Lately it has become fashionable to talk about espionage, the “Kitchen operations” and the sewers of the state … These are dark mechanisms used by those who aspire to a share of power to play each other off against each other.
However, for the working class that rejects power and relations of domination, it does not run through the sewers. The shit circulates in the street, in full view of everyone. The bourgeoisie has no need to hide when it comes to criminalising workers’ self-defence, as it manages everything it needs: workplaces, courts and police.
In many media you can hear about the La Suiza case, most of them saying that six unionists have been sentenced and that justice has been done, that they have been sentenced to three and a half years for crimes of serious coercion and obstruction of justice, but what does this mean? Nothing really and, at the same time, whatever you want it to mean. They are condemning union action and the defence of a woman worker against the abuses of the bosses.
Cause of the conflict
This conflict started in 2017 when the worker of the La Suiza cake shop contacted the CNT Xixón. It seemed like a normal conflict. Claiming some overtime and holidays that she was owed, as well as looking for a dignified exit from the company. The first time we met with the worker, we found a person who was worn down and fearful of returning to her job after maternity leave, all because of endless working hours, the absence of holidays and unbearable treatment with humiliating comments and opinions about her body. A situation that was unacceptable and which, taking courage and with the support of the union, the comrade decided to confront.
Context of the union’s situation in 2017
At that time, the SOV [general union] in Xixón had experienced a large growth, there were several active union conflicts where street action predominated with pickets, placarding, leaflet distribution and dissemination through social networks. In this context, hostilities against the union began to increase, especially on the part of the brigade of information [secret police], which encouraged employers to report our actions, especially those in conflict with the CNT. Many of the active conflicts were in the hotel and catering sector, where jobs are very precarious, union presence was practically non-existent and where abuses were not often confronted, something they could not forgive us for.
Development of the conflict
The first step was to try to contact the employer. This proved impossible. We then tried to talk to the employer at the workplace, but to no avail, as he refused to receive the union with the typical attitude of “no union in my house”. As the company ignored our requests for a meeting, we started to socialise the conflict by taking it to the streets with a first rally on May Day, accompanied by a network campaign.
In the aftermath, the employer agreed to meet with the union in his lawyer’s office, where we presented our demands. There was no agreement of any kind with the company (because we were ETA and because the brigade of information was going to cut us off). Since no agreement was reached, the union action continued. At the next meeting, the identifications began. Already that same day they had filed a complaint against the comrades. The next day, two comrades were arrested and a third one was not, because she was outside Asturias (a curious situation for us, as it seems that if the police are looking for you, it is enough to be outside your home or outside the region). The arrest was completely irregular, with the typical threats at the police station and comments of the type “enough of all that about the CNT and the street”. At the police station itself, when asked about the arrests, they stated that this was not the protocol and that the brigade of information was “going its own way”.
After this, the conflict was rising steadily with weekly rallies with a large participation, some with more than 100 people, where practically all of them were reported to the government delegate’s office and therefore with police presence, it is striking that in rallies where alleged crimes were committed, the police, always present, never intervened. There was also a significant increase in continuous identifications, calls at work by the police to some activists, fines, threats and coercion. Among them, a pamphlet handed out by the employer to the businesses in the area with the photo of a woman worker who showed solidarity with the comrade and on which one could read “watch out for this person, she supports the CNT, who are the ones who attack the businesses in the neighbourhood …”.
The cake shop closes in September, but the conflict remains active due to the complaints filed by the company.
Complaints and trial
At the beginning of the process, they tried to charge more than thirty people, CNT members, members of other unions, neighbours … they even went so far as to report the government delegate for not stopping the CNT’s actions. In the end, eight people were charged, presumably in an attempt to reduce the absurdity of the case and make it more manageable for those who had to judge it.
With the dismissal of the complaint for sexual harassment, which was dismissed because despite the fact that the testimony of the worker was completely plausible, it was considered that there was insufficient burden of proof, and this is what the judgement states, the employer then stepped up and sued the comrade for false denunciation, which was also dismissed, because as stated above, the facts could not be proved, which does not mean that they did not happen.
Following the line of absurdity, our legal team was also reported for the content of the defence briefs, the psychologist who treated our comrade for the content of his reports, and recently our comrade for the content of her statement in the trial …
In 2021, the trial was held where eight comrades were sentenced to three and a half years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros (a bail of 60,000 euros had already been deposited). After the sentence was passed, a demonstration was held on 10 July with a massive participation of comrades arriving from the Northern, Central and Aragón-Rioja region, as well as numerous local union, cultural and political organisations. This year, 2022, the judgment on the appeal presented the previous year has come out, leaving six people condemned.
For all these reasons, the Xixón union continues to fight, calling for another demonstration on 24 September in Madrid. We call for participation and to support the demonstration to defend what they really want to eradicate, our model of union action.
From CNT Xixón we find it strange how at the entrances to the city there are signs that say “Xixón nun tolerá la violencia machista” (Xixón does not tolerate male violence). What they don’t say is that, when it comes to fighting it, you need a good support network, you need to arm yourself with courage and take the hand of your comrades because, depending on who you are and who you point the finger at, you could be the one who is judged and condemned. In any case, for those who are willing, the CNT will always be there …
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